The Southwest Conference this summer put out a history and record book on its football teams. In essence, the book is a testimonial to two coaches, Darrell Royal at Texas and Frank Broyles at Arkansas. Their pictures appear 19 times, showing them as young men, competing coaches, golfing buddies. And now they have quit.
Good. In 20 seasons at Texas, Royal created and guided teams that won or shared 11 conference championships. If you watched any football on television in the 1960s, you saw them: Royal wearing his telephone headset, looking busy and confident; Broyles always cool, impassive, as if he knew it would all turn out well. Come late November, it was time for Texas-Arkansas and all those crazies screaming, "Hook 'em, Horns" and "Soooee," and the winner would go to the Cotton Bowl to beat up on somebody.
Worn out, Ara Parseghian quit at Notre Dame, leaving college football's best coaching job. Or is it the worst? If Notre Dame's legend makes it easier to get the best players, it also demands eternal and everlasting vivctory, and to fail at Notre Dame is to betary Rockne and Gipp and bartenders in Hackensack. Parseghian hadn't failed. He'd worked wonders. But he was tired of 20-hour days and soeeches and traveling and recruiting and he wanted out so he could meet his family and think and relax a while.
And then you saw pictures of Royal on televisions. He was old. Suddenly, he was 50 years old and it showed. He'd been a handsome man, as Paul Bryant once was handsome, but now wrinkles and shadows owned Royal's face, and you hoped he wouldn't go on until ruin arrived, as Bryant has.
And the things Royal was saying. Somehow, he was always jawing with Barry Switzer, the young coach at Oklahoma, Royal's alma mater and, with Arkansas, his chief rival in the Southwest, both for prestige and players. From a distance, the feud was fun.
Listen to this one. Royal insisted that Oklahoma spied on team's practice sessions. In 1971, he said, Oklahoma sent a spy to watch Nebraska. The spy stood on a urnial in a bathroom and pulled himself up to a window in order to see. And the spy, Royal said, developed cramps in his hands, fingers and back from hanging on the window sill.
Royal and Switzer invited each other to take lie-detector tests about recruiting and neither accepted and from a distance it all seemed laughable, these two grown men trading shots.
Royal's friends say the coach was doing what no one else would do. Blowing the whistle. The recruiting was sick, they said, and if somebody didn't speak up, somebody with clout, it might destroy the game.
The truth of that dosesn't change this: Darrell Royal was tired of college football. As Parseghian was tired, so was Royal. He'd been to the top and it was nice for a long time and then he became old too soon, old before he should have been old, and there he was, a gentleman, screaming in the daily papers about spies and cheaters and lie-detector tests.
Broyles went out quietly. Texas beat Arkansas, 29-21, on Dec. 4 last season in the team's' last game. Both wound up with 5-5-1 won-lost-tied records. For Boyles, it was the second break-even year in the last four and it was eighth year without a conference championship. And a man who knows both Rouyal and Broyles says they may have left the playing field - to become their schools' athletic directors - because the game's demands robbed them of what they prized most. Dignity.
The man who sadi that is Johnny Majors. At Pitt last season he coached Tony Dorsett and playmates to an undefeated season that produced victory in the Sugar Bowl and a national championship. For five seasons, from 1963 through 1967, Majors was an assistant coach under Broyles; he took his first head coaching job, at Iowa State, on Royal's advice, and he said, "I hate to see the retire. We need people like Darrell and Frank. They added color and excitement and style to the game. And they both loved football."
But enough's Majors, said. The demands were too much. "I think they both thought a coach's reputation ought to sell himself. Somebody like Ara Parseghian Joe Paterno, Bear Bryant, John McKay, Darrell Royal, Frank Broyles - they've proven themselves. And for them to see this dirty pool going on, to see themselves bowing and scraping in front of a high school senior - well, they finally asked, 'Do I sell my soul to a kid?'"
The answer was no. Good. Majors says Broyles was a great football coach ("He was fertile with ideas") and a masterful punlic relations man ("The most eloquent speaker I ever heard"). He thought a lot of Royal ("I liked the football he played, and I liked the style. No beating around the bush. Straight to the meat of it").
Broyles and Royal were and will remain, vital forces in college football. In days when assistant coaches were customarily paid coolie wages. Broyles built great staffs - one assistant was Barry Switzer - by paying his men well and seeing they were given fringe benefits just as the head coach was. "They set a lot of standards," said Fred Akers, once a player for Broyles, later an assistant coach for Royal, now beginning his first season as Royal's successor. "It would be silly to say you could come away from those two without something good rubbing off. They are class."